October 28, 2007
Zebras out to lunch
The CFL head office should be embarrassed and ashamed.
The officiating in this league has become so bad that it's bordering on comical.
No, Andre Proulx's much-disputed holding call on Mike Maurer isn't the sole reason the Edmonton Eskimos lost on Friday night.
But it is another black eye for the league.
Should George Black -- the CFL's director of officiating and the lead instructor of the so-called refereeing talent -- be fired for the embarrassing list of mistakes this year?
That is a question that only commissioner Mark Cohon can answer.
But in the last month it appears the officials have completely blown key calls in three separate Eskimos games.
Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia won't publicly comment on the officiating because he doesn't want to be fined or create even more problems for this team.
But here's a list of eye-popping mistakes made by the zebras in just the last 30 days:
Botched Assignment No. 1: The referees missed not one but two clips on Dominique Dorsey's 69-yard punt return for a touchdown that helped the Argos beat the Eskimos on the Thanksgiving Day long weekend.
At least the CFL head office quietly admitted those mistakes to the Esks after the fact.
Botched assignment No. 2: Ken Lazaruk's crew on Oct. 13 put forward one of the worst displays of officiating witnessed by this scribe in three years.
Somehow, the referees totally messed up three different plays that left people shaking their head in amazement by the end of the show.
The Esks watched Lenny Williams's interception get wiped out by an illegal contact on a receiver penalty on Adam Braidwood.
But on the replay, Braidwood got flagged for doing absolutely nothing wrong. In reality, B.C. receivers Paris Jackson and Jason Clermont get their feet tangled -- which led to Jackson falling.
Then on a B.C. punt, a Lions player was so late reporting to the play that while he was sprinting into position he just missed getting hit by the snap of the ball.
The referees could have called three different penalties against B.C. on the play, but for some bizarre reason just ignored everything and the let the play continue.
But the most costly mistake was ignoring a blatant pass interference call on Lavar Glover.
With 12 seconds left and Edmonton trailing by six, Glover clearly interfered with Edmonton receiver Fred Stamps in the end zone, but no call was made.
Botched assignment No. 3: On Friday against Saskatchewan, Andre Proulx threw the red flag for a phantom holding call -- according to Maurer -- that negated an Edmonton lead with two seconds left.
That flag definitely ruined Sean Fleming's storybook ending by taking his 47-yard field goal off the board. But it also led to a very sad -- but telling -- scene for the league at the end of the game.
Eskimo communications director Dave Jamieson ran after the officials while they left the field. The most respected PR person in the league couldn't handle the state of officiating any longer.
"I couldn't quite believe what happened," he said alone.